One LAN, or local area network, party that we had earlier this year sticks out to all who attended as “the best” that they had ever been to. Besides the obvious; invite hilarious people that get along, make sure you have a venue large enough to accommodate everyone, desk area/seating for each computer, and time (usually a whole day - this LAN lasted from 10AM ‘til 5AM), there are other things that need to be taken into consideration. I am going to break down the elements of what made this particular LAN so successful.
-Planning: The night before, agree on a “setlist” of heavy hitter games. It also helps if everyone defrags their drives and has a few gigs of free space to install any new games. Remind everyone to update their games too. Some LAN parties start with a wasted hour or two of downloading and installing.
-The Games: There are heavy hitter games such as L4D, Counter-strike, WoW, etc etc.. the-more-the-merrier games that can continue all night. The next tier of games could be good 2 to four player games, such as Portal 2. League of Legends, Starcraft 2, etc. The “Low Tier LAN” games are, well, non-PC. Nothing like a break from the keyboard to do a little Mariokart 3DS, or a quick Xbox Call of Duty session, so feel free to bust out the consoles. It's always fun to throw in a couple of games that guarantee laughs too like Team Fortress 2, Mount and Blade, Bloody Good Time, or Air Buccaneers.
-Extra Cables To Bring: powerstrips, DVI/HDMI (LCD screen cables), regular black power cord cables, CAT-5 network cables.
-Network type: Although wifi is now at fast speeds (dual-band routers, N-type adapters, etc), it’s still recommended to link up in good ol’ fashioned Cat-5. Nothing beats physical cable, as wifi can become complicated with signal strengths when spreading out. Modern wifi routers can probably handle a few computers, but any party over 8 people and it’s time to bring a switch/router with enough ports for Cat-5.
-Location: Depending on the size of your party, space may be an issue. Nothing beats a classic garage or basement LAN, as the average room can heat up with 4+ computers. Another thing to consider is power. If all 4 outlets in a room have multiple power strips, you may trip the circuit breaker if too much power is being drawn to one circuit. ***A good tip is to have a few computers use extension cords that connect to outlets in opposite sides of the building.*** (we managed to have only one power outage during the 9-person LAN shown above)
-Gamer fuel: Marisa’s healthy snacks are a good option if you have time to prepare them. I usually will throw any current dietary concerns out the window during a LAN party and go for ordering pizza, copious amounts of Mountain Dew (to help with reflexes at 5AM), a variety of chips, and various movie size candy concoctions.